Update if necessary. Last update: January 9, 2008
Hi! My name is Rick. I would like to help by telling you about the solutions that are working for me in dealing with pornography addiction. Hopefully, these solutions will work for you. If you are under the age of 18, then read this with parental or guardian guidance for discussion afterwards.
Practical solutions that are working for me, and the reasoning used to arrive at the solutions:
A practical way to reduce time spent downloading pornography: If you live with someone else or other people, then one good way to reduce time spent downloading pornography is to place the computer in a public part of your home such as the living room. That way, there is less time that one could spend privately with the computer, and that cuts down time spent on downloading pornography dramatically.
Interrupt lustful thoughts and feelings with music or do something else that works for you: sometimes when we feel the urge to look at pornography, that urge comes from a feeling of discontent or craving that is based on habitual thoughts and behaviors.� What I find helpful is to interrupt that moment of desire with something else like listening to music.� Pick a song that is meaningful or inspirational to you and that you like and listen to it whenever you feel the urge to use pornography, and keep listening until the urges go away.� Give that a try and see if it works.� My song at the moment is �Jumper� by Third Eye Blind.
Masturbate less over time: I think gradually reducing the frequency of orgasms over time decreases testosterone level.� I think that is true because my acne is better without ejaculation.� There is information out there that says that �masturbation aggravates acne� is a myth, but apparently from personal experience, it is not a myth, it is true!� So with decreased testosterone level, the desire for pornography decreases, AND I look better!� Sounds strange, but it is true!� Don�t take my word as truth, try it for yourself and see!� A calendar can be used to keep track of progress, and it is encouraging to see gradual progress over time.� Go up to at least two weeks without masturbation, and you should see a decrease in your craving for pornography and better physical appearance.
Find other things to feel good about in life: we seek out and enjoy pornography because we want to feel good.� Everyone wants to feel good, and pornography is our easy way of feeling good.� We seek pornography because we feel down about something else, and pornography fills that void.� How do we fix that void so that we do not have to fill it with pornography?� First, recognize what those voids are.� For me, my voids are lack of encouragement from my parents, and lack of a girlfriend.� I know this now because for awhile, I had great praise and encouragement from my instructors from school (I am back in school now), and I had someone interested in me romantically.� During that time, I did not resort to pornography so much.� After that passed, I was back into pornography with a vengeance.� So I have voids to fill.� How to fill them?� If others do not praise or encourage me and make me feel good, then I need to do that for myself.� Praise and encourage myself.� If others do not like me sexually, then I need to like myself, not necessarily to think that I am attractive if I am not, but to think of other reasons for liking myself.� One good reason is my web site, and that I am trying to help others.� I should feel good about that!� So, think of what we might feel down about that we are trying to fill with pornography, and fill those voids with other more positive ways instead of pornography.� We all try to do good, at one time or another, and though we are not perfect, it is in our nature to help others, to cheer for heroes and good deeds, and we should feel good about that essence in ourselves.
Join organized sports: I joined a sport and social club in my city. The club offers different team sports such as ultimate Frisbee, basketball, soccer, dodgeball, etc. I joined for one of those sports. Playing team sports is so much fun, and afterwards I felt no craving at all for pornography, and pornography seems so lame to me. Playing team sports regularly gives a sense of well-being, and I feel less dependent on pornography, at least right after playing. Even if one has to pay for joining, it is money well spent, guaranteed.
Can we control our sexual cravings effectively through mental training and practicing better behaviors?� A lot of knowledge on how our minds work and how craving arises needs to learned, many habits need to be changed, and it takes a long time to change, but change is possible.� I overcame pornography addiction in that I am not as compelled as before to use pornography.� If I can do it, then probably everyone else can do it too.� I have revised the web page to reflect new understanding that I have about pornography addiction.� I created a link below to link to my old web page in case anyone wants to refer to it for previous discussions on the nature of craving and suffering.
Understanding the human condition of craving: From my Buddhist readings, I learned the following insights that are verifiable by everyone�s personal experience.� We want something, someone, or some circumstance not because the object, person, or circumstance has any intrinsic value that is desirable, but we want it because we do not have it.� We want something or someone especially strongly if we cannot have it.� Once we have it, we tend to take it for granted and not want it so much or at all.� Little or nothing has changed about the thing that we wanted, but our minds have changed.� The desire is in the mind and possession changes that desire.� Before we possess, we idealize and fantasize about what we want, which fuels craving.� After we possess, we realize what we wanted is imperfect (i.e. it is not as satisfying as we thought), and it is impermanent (i.e. even if it satisfies completely, it does not satisfy for life).� As animals that need to gather and possess food, mates and other resources in order to survive and reproduce, evolution and natural selection give rise to humans and other animals that crave and want to possess, without stop, for life.� The cycle repeats over and over again: we crave, acquire, and get bored with what we have, crave for something else, etc.� That is the condition of craving.� Being ignorant of this phenomenon leads to craving and suffering.� Being aware of this is one step to changing it.
Refinement on understanding the condition of craving: Craving is a way of life, of motivation. Once we are satisfied with one thing, we crave something else. The aim is not to resist craving, because that is hard or almost impossible to do, but to prevent the rise of craving in the first place. Craving occurs because of the following: sentient beings have evolved to survive by acting on motivations and punishments; hunger drives us to eat, lust drives us to reproduce. Things that are good for survival and reproduction, we deem as desirable. Those that do not think so would not reproduce, and so the majority of beings deem food and sex as desirable. Things that are bad for survival and reproduction, we deem as undesirable. What we deem as desirable, we crave.� What we deem as undesirable, we dislike. Ignorance of this reality allows craving to arise. When I want someone or something, I imagine all the nice things about it but ignore all the bad things about it. Thus craving arises. If instead we see both good and bad about something, then we would not want it or dislike it as much. Craving is not good because when unfulfilled, it leads to suffering. The inherent ignorance of sentient beings when looking at things as totally good or bad, or totally desirable or undesirable, is necessary for survival and reproduction. Thus, such inherent ignorance is passed on through generations. We all have this inherent ignorance, of seeing only part of the whole picture. We are borne trapped in this body, conditioned with what we perceive, with everything driven by pleasure and pain, desires and hatred, rewards and punishments. Realizing this, if we want to cease the rise of craving, we need to not only see the whole picture of what we are craving, but to do everything to rewire the basic mode of operation that we are borne with, which is very difficult but not impossible. Remember that we are not spending all our time on craving for pornography or other things. There are times when we are happy with doing something, and all we need to do is to find ways to spend more time doing that instead of craving. One thing that helps in ceasing craving is to see totally, to be fully aware of the bad as well as the good, and try to balance out the good and the bad perceived.
Simple and effective ways to prevent the rise of cravings: I found through trial and error that one effective way to prevent the rise of cravings or to reduce the intensity of cravings is to stop daily masturbation. Try to gradually reduce the frequency of masturbation. At first, you might masturbate every day.� Try to keep it every other day, then every second day, and so on. I do not mean to never masturbate again, but to do it less. Or when possible, masturbate, but not to the point of orgasm. Or try not masturbating to the sights of pornography. This is helpful is because orgasm is to pornography addiction as nicotine is to cigarette addiction. If we disconnect orgasm from pornography, then that is helpful.� Having orgasms encourage sexual appetite to grow, and it is like teasing ourselves or baiting ourselves for future cravings.
Training the mind to prevent the rise of cravings: We are made of our sensations, thoughts, feelings, habits, desires, cravings, and so on.� We can exercise control over all those things if we choose to and direct our feelings and actions.�� At the moments of great cravings, self-control and direction is impossible.� That is why the practice of directing our thoughts and feelings needs to be done in regular, day-to-day living, in the present moment.� That helps us to gain control over ourselves, to prevent the arising of cravings, or to be able to lessen them when they arise.� To practice, constantly monitor and notice your present thoughts and feelings.� You would find that there are often intruding thoughts that arise in your consciousness.� When that happens, notice them, but refrain from acting on them or dwelling on them, and go back to what you were doing or thinking about before.� When sexual thoughts or fantasies arise, instead of dwelling on or entertaining them, let them exit your consciousness by themselves.� This practice allows you to gain control over cravings and let them fall away without acting on them when they do arise.
Quitting for good reasons: Trying to quit is very hard if there are no good reasons to quit. In other words, if we were extremely rich, have no responsibilities, no obligations, have nothing else that we want to achieve out of life, then by all means, indulge in the addiction! However, if there are other things that we want out of life, other responsibilities, other experience and things that we should or want to strive for, then those are good motivating reasons to quit. Sit down and ask yourself, what do I want out of life?� Do I need to quit pornography in order to achieve those goals? Where do I want my life to go? What do I envision for myself in five or ten years?
Creating super-busy necessities in one�s life: I discovered by accident one great way to re-establish a more normal life with less cravings for pornography.� For awhile back, I was very busy and stressed with adjusting to a new job and applying for college.� Sometimes I would not get home until 11:30pm on weekdays, and on weekends I spent my time thinking about stuff for the new job and studying for an interview for college.� As a result, I had little time and interest for pornography or masturbation.� That went on for at least two weeks.� Afterwards, I found that I no longer have great interest in Internet or DVD pornography.� What I think happened was that I effectively broke my habit of using pornography by attending to the necessities of the demanding situation that I went through.� I had no time or energy for pornography.� Usually, when people try to quit pornography by going cold-turkey (i.e. to stop using pornography based solely on willpower), there are pretty bad withdrawal symptoms because one is so used to the daily pleasures of having orgasms to pornography.� When one tries to withhold that from oneself, that is very hard to do.� However, if one stops using pornography because one is so preoccupied with something else, then one could quit using pornography without feeling the withdrawal symptoms because one is too busy with other things to miss pornography.� So I quit my pornography addiction quite by accident.� I have �stayed clean� in the sense that I have control over my use of pornography, I no longer feel compelled to use it, and I do not crave for it like I used to.� I wonder if someone could create busy and necessary circumstances for oneself such that there is just no free time or mental focus for pornography, and quit by having necessities that keep one�s mind and body occupied and away from pornography.� I think this is worth a try.
Accentuate the positives: There are almost always both positives and negatives to any circumstance, situation, or problem.� Why focus on the negatives when one could focus on the positives?� That does not mean to ignore the negatives.� One can work on improving the negatives if possible, but at the same time focus on the positives.� Accentuating the positive things in one’s thinking would help one to prevent depression, and that helps to prevent pornography usage because using pornography can serve as a way to relieve depression for awhile.�� Thinking positively leads to constructive changes, and positive emotions like happiness and hopefulness are better for the mind and body.� An example of staying positive in the face of pornography addiction is to focus on the improvements at hand.� Recognizing that we have an addiction to pornography is a very good first step to change, and that is a very good thing.� Sometimes people do not even realize that there is a problem, or sometimes people choose to deny it.� Focus on the small improvements over time instead of focusing on the relapses.� As long as we are going in the right direction, all we have to do is to keep learning and improving.
Overcoming addiction and regaining control over oneself is possible because others have done it, I have done it, and so can you.� Before pornography addiction, we were okay, and we can reach that state once again.� What is really happening when we change our cravings and habits is that we are rewiring our brains over time to a state that requires less dopamine release or less stimulation to the pleasure center of the brain in order to be happy or feel content.� This rewiring of the brain can be done by anyone, given the right knowledge and practices.
I recommend accentuating the positives in other areas of life as well.� The world is a beautiful place once we notice that – unlike the negative news that we are fed everyday in newspapers – most people are nice and decent people, and it is never too late to change and improve on ourselves, our families and relationships, the environment, and so on.� The positives are everywhere, if you know where to look.
Dealing with depression: Depression contributes as a cause of pornography addiction.� When one is depressed, pornography serves as a source of pleasure that alleviates depression for awhile, but then pornography addiction becomes something to be depressed about, and that forms a vicious cycle.� One good way of alleviating depression I found is to read humorous, positive and uplifting materials.� Reader�s Digest is my favorite at the moment as a heartwarming, uplifting and funny magazine, and I recommend it as a good read.� I think of it as my personal literary Prozac, without any side effects.
Ways to reduce testosterone level as way of reducing lust: Testosterone is a hormone that fuels sexual interest.� I suspect that if testosterone level in the body can be decreased, then that might help in reducing excessive interest in pornography.� I read about studies that showed that caloric restriction with adequate nutrition (CRAN) decreases testosterone levels in rats (e.g. http://www.benbest.com/calories/cran98.html and http://www.benbest.com/calories/cran95.html).� That means that reducing caloric intake in one�s diet might reduce testosterone level.� I read an article in �Psychology Today� about someone who is on CRAN for the possible longevity benefit; he found that his testosterone level is as low as a woman�s and that his sex drive has decreased by a lot, but he also finds the peace that comes with reduced sex drive and he relates better with his wife interpersonally.� CRAN does not mean to starve oneself, but perhaps moderate decrease in caloric intake might help.� Reducing testosterone level also does not mean to become asexual, but reducing excessive lust might be good for a pornography addict.� Another possible way to reduce testosterone level is to reduce frequency of masturbation (http://www.masturbationpage.com/asmfaq1.html#23q).� Personal experience has supported this theory, in that if I have abstained from masturbation for an extended period of time, then my desire for pornography or masturbation has decreased.� At first, reduction might be hard, but with some effort, gradual reduction in frequency is possible.� Also, thinking about sex increases testosterone (http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mcousson/Carlson10.html).� To reduce frequency of fantasies about sex, try to keep busy as outlined above, or learn and practice meditation to gain control over our minds.� Finally, know that time is on our side because testosterone level decreases over time as we age.
Dealing with loneliness: If you live alone, then that could be a contributing factor to pornography addiction.� For one thing, the suggestion above about placing the computer in a public place in the home would not work if you live alone.� Besides that, from personal experience and from seeing what happens to others, I find that unless one is very sociable and has time to go out or chat on the phone frequently, living alone is socially isolating and depressing.� One might not realize that one feels alone or depressed when those feelings have become the norm.� I think as a general rule, humans are social creatures and while some are fine with living alone, I think for most people it is not so healthy.� If finding a roommate or housemate is not an option, then I suggest getting a pet if you are interested in that and if you have some time for a pet.� I read elsewhere in an article that a gambling addict got a dog as a pet, and that has helped her with gambling addiction.� She said that having the responsibility to take care of another being gives her more meaning in life and someone to live for, and when she feels the urges to gamble, she takes her dog out for a walk and she walks off her urges.� Plus, owning a pet opens up social opportunities such as meeting other dog owners in the park or at an obedience school for the dog.� If dogs are not for you, then other pets might be good too!� Personally, I prefer cats because they are of lower maintenance than dogs.� Also, I find that listening to talk radio can help one to not feel alone at all.� I live in Canada, and we have CBC Radio One, which is informative and entertaining public radio without commercials, and I could listen to it all day and not feel alone.
Dealing with stress: Some people have indicated that they use pornography as a stress reliever.� While in moderation it might be okay, as an addiction it becomes a problem.� Meditation, yoga, and/or talking to someone about what is stressing you out are probably good alternatives as ways for dealing with stress.
Dealing with boredom: Having little interests in life really numbs the mind, and the mind is a terrible thing to waste.� Having little interests in life also might lead to depression because studies found that depressed people have shrunken hippocampus, a brain region responsible for learning.� As mentioned before, depression probably can play a part in pornography addiction.� My advice is to find something that you would like to learn or do and pursue it, whether it be a craft, skill or subject.� People learn in different ways, and I find that once you discover how you learn best and practice it, you would find that learning is very rewarding and you would feel less need for pornography.� For example, I find that I learn best if I make notes of questions and answers out of what I read, and filling my brain with knowledge makes me feel less empty and less needy of pornography.
Find other fun, healthy and social activities to do: This is a good general advice for anyone under any circumstance.� Find something positive that you would enjoy doing and go try it.� For example, I read in the local newspaper that there is a social and sport organization in the city that I will move to, and I plan to join it to play co-ed ultimate Frisbee and meet people (women in particular because I am looking for a girlfriend).� : )� Even if I do not meet anyone, playing ultimate Frisbee or any other sport would be socializing, I would get some exercise, get out of the house, and do something fun that I would like to do.� For the pornography addict, that also gets oneself away from pornography.� Another thing I am thinking of doing is going to cooking classes.� The world is your oyster, so go out and explore!
Best of luck to you!� There are positive and effective ways in dealing with pornography addiction, and I hope you can find your way.
Previous version of this web page – This is a link to a previous verrsion of this web page that contains thoughts on pornography addiction that might be helpful in understanding and dealing with the addiction.
Support and help for mates of pornography addicts – This is a link to information that I included to help mates of pornography addicts understand and deal with the situation, and to help their mates recover.
If you have comments, suggestions, or if you would like to contact me, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.� I cannot respond to everyone right away, but I would try my best, and I would like to read from you.